Winter-Proofing your Church Building
January 7, 2019
The colder months are a particularly busy period for Churches, especially with the festive season fast approaching— here we offer you some practical advice that can keep your Church and those who visit it safe and secure this Winter.
The Church Building
Checking the property’s masonry and roof for any loose, damaged or missing tiles, bricks or stone can be easily done by eye, or using binoculars. Replacing a missing slate or mending a wall is often easier and cheaper than having to deal with the the long-term results of leaking.
Another tip which is just as simple, is to ensure that any trees or lamp-posts nearby are in good condition—Winter brings strong winds which could upheave or loosen weak structures, such as tree branches, and cause damage.
In the event of damage or if you feel as though repair is necessary, contacting a qualified individual or professional service is safer and could be more cost-effective in the long term than making a quick-fix.
Pipes and plumbing maintenance
Perhaps one of the more common risks your church faces this Winter is a blocked pipe, which can cause significant water damage if left untreated. Water damage by burst or leaky pipes are often more expensive than other escape-of-water claims. Luckily, frozen pipes don’t have to be as daunting if prevented, or managed correctly:
Firstly, it is good practice to have a qualified individual or service check your boiler and heating regularly, especially in the colder months. Having them ensure that the thermostat works correctly could make all the difference to preventing disaster. Another effective method is to turn off external taps and keep the heating on so that temperatures within the building do not drop to below freezing.
If you discover a frozen pipe-
Don’t panic, but don’t wait for it to burst, either—turn off the water supply and carefully defrost the affected area, using a mild heat source such as a hot water bottle or steam- do not use an open flame for this.
For some churches, Winter can be a quiet time of year with few, if any, visitors. If your property is only visited once or twice a week, or even less so, a substantial amount of damage can occur within the time that it is unoccupied. Even if people aren’t present often, there are steps you can take to protect your church against the harshest of Winter.
- Turn off the stopcock and drain the system (and make sure that anyone using or visiting the church is aware of this).
- Leaving the heating on is a good way to stop pipes from bursting, if this is possible.
Keeping visitors safe
In the days leading up to Christmas, an increase of visitors can increase the risk of injury because of slippery and wet surfaces. It is a good idea to grit/salt pathways before visitors are due to arrive, such as early in the morning or late at night. This is especially important when snow or below-zero temperatures are expected, so keeping up to date with the forecast could be useful.
In the case that it does snow, it is important to clear it whilst it is still fresh and loose (such as with a shovel). Never use water to clear snow as this could freeze over and produce black ice, which is particularly dangerous. Clearing leaves, which are not only a slip hazard but could also block drains, is also good practice.
When following these guidelines, we strongly advise that you contact the appropriate professionals and services where appropriate. Your safety is important too and you should not put yourself in danger for the sake of, for example, fixing a faulty roof tile. If you have any concerns or worries, please feel free to contact us and we would be happy to give your further advice and guidance.